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Helping a Student "Get" Planning Their Track

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  • #21
    I think there is a lot of great advice in this thread!
    I agree that it's probably not a great idea to ask her about her eyesight directly, as it might be a difficult conversation, and she may just have bad spatial awareness/visualization skills.

    Here are some things my trainer has done with me that kind of help (it's an on-going issue I have with jumping):

    Verbally pre-plan a course. She "workshops" what I should think about when jumping.
    At first she would say "come off the fence and turn towards the jump by the cones." The she started asking me where I'd come off the arena wall, what I would be looking at before and after the jump, etc. Now she ask me to talk through my plans with her when she's set a tricky course.
    That might be a fun group activity as well, asking each rider to go through one or more of the decisions they need to make to plan a good course; or taking turns planning the approach to one jump in the course each.

    If I'm nervous about making a turn I tend to treat it like a hairpin roll-back (making it much harder to turn cleanly and smoothly), it sounds like this may be a bit of what she's doing. So my trainer will sometimes show me how BIG a turn can be and still get me to the jump.
    If I think about turning my shoulders to a fence, our turns are much better than when I think about looking at a fence, because I sometimes am only turning my neck, thinking about turning my upper body to the fence makes it easier for my horse to anticipate where we're going next!
    It also is really important that I am turning off my outside rein. If I am doing a nice turn and using the outside rein, we very rarely end up having to jump at a weird angle because I've totally missed getting straight to the jump, but if I'm focused on the inside rein our turns are awkward at best.

    One other thing that's helped me is having to plan my own courses. At first my trainer would say jump x and then turn right or left, but know before you are going over the jump which way it will be. I often jumped and then turned in a direction my horse found surprising (like, going across the diagonal, and turning back to the direction we'd been going before crossing the diagonal). So my trainer would talk about how courses are typically designed. Now she will sometimes say "start with this jump, then jump x and y in whatever order you want." I will usually talk through what I'm going to do/what makes sense. This has really improved my understanding of where the next jump might be during a course, and what makes a course "flowing" and easy to execute. A part of that has been that I usually need to point my horse at a jump during the "planning phase" because I'm very bad at estimating where I am going to be coming from/going to if I'm looking at the jump from an angle.

    And it sounds like she might be feeling a little overwhelmed about cantering in a group/jumping etc.
    Make sure you have very clear instructions/rules about group riding, and that everyone follows them! for example, passing left to left, the person who is overtaking should do a circle, or whatever.

    This also might be a great excuse to teach your riders to clearly let others know where they are going! When I was struggling to predict where other riders would end up, it was really helpful that everyone else in my group lesson would talk to me "I'll take the outside" or just "You're good there" so I knew we were all trying to avoid collisions, and I knew what people were doing around me as well!
    Also if you don't already do this, maybe tell her where to put her horse (or tell everyone) when one person is jumping. Especially if she's struggling to remember courses, she might be spending a surprising amount of energy worrying if she's about to be in someone's way when she's not jumping!

    You sound like a great teacher for this student, I just wanted to add that I think you are right to not read much into her expression when riding. My face can get quite "shut down" when I am concentrating hard on myself, but it doesn't mean I'm not paying attention and trying hard.

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    • #22
      Have you ever just asked her to tell you about her course?

      All the kids can do it, this is not specific to her. Have them jump a few jumps and then go over it with them, where they tell you about it, specifically what they did right and what they can work on.

      It might help you to learn how to help her if you know what she is thinking.

      Comment


      • #23
        Haha my trainer will stand there (where I tend to cut the corner) and tell me I better not run her over! You may or may not want to try that though!!!
        http://trainingcupid.blogspot.com/

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        • Original Poster

          #24
          Thanks again for all the ideas. I feel like out of this challenge I have a lot of good lesson plans and exercises that will benefit the whole group, so that's a win!

          HungarianHippo I had contemplated a chalk line, what with my Dad being a ball player and all. Nice to know someone has actually done it and it works. It's actually somewhat how I visualize my own track, because otherwise my head sometimes "goes through the motions" like bip mentioned, and then I look like the exorcist (yes, a trainer said that to me in a lesson once). At the very least it looks like I'm going to hit up the Dollar Store and buy some extra cones to supplement what the barn has, as I completely agree setting a curved line rather than points would be better.

          I also like the analogy of the different volume knobs. I think I do this naturally to some degree (hey, I can only process so much too!) but I'll try to be mindful if I'm "cranking it."

          Regarding the eyesight, I should clarify I'm not planning to just go up to her and say "Geez have you had your eyes checked?" I can figure out a way to be a little more tactful than that, or chat with the mother if I see her. It is just really amazing how much we can compensate when it comes to our eyes if we don't know any different. Ajierene's post being a pretty significant example. Even with my mild astigmatism, I never even noticed until I couldn't read the eighth notes in high school band. This in spite of the fact it actually affected all my reading and distance sight.

          We haven't ridden outdoors yet so I'm curious what more open space and light does to this situation. As Scribbler said, she may really be worried about bashing into walls.

          Comment


          • #25
            Re: the chalk line -- as I'm sure you'd guess, the line will get fuzzy and vague as the horses trample over it. Just refresh with a little more chalk during the lesson (I used one of those squeeze bottles of baby powder). And obvs don't need do the whole arena / every jumping line -- just pick one or two jumps where finding the line has been challenging.
            Good luck!! Stop back and let us know how it's going, would be great to hear.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #26
              Originally posted by MissCoco View Post
              I think there is a lot of great advice in this thread!
              I agree that it's probably not a great idea to ask her about her eyesight directly, as it might be a difficult conversation, and she may just have bad spatial awareness/visualization skills.

              Here are some things my trainer has done with me that kind of help (it's an on-going issue I have with jumping):

              Verbally pre-plan a course. She "workshops" what I should think about when jumping.
              At first she would say "come off the fence and turn towards the jump by the cones." The she started asking me where I'd come off the arena wall, what I would be looking at before and after the jump, etc. Now she ask me to talk through my plans with her when she's set a tricky course.
              That might be a fun group activity as well, asking each rider to go through one or more of the decisions they need to make to plan a good course; or taking turns planning the approach to one jump in the course each.

              If I'm nervous about making a turn I tend to treat it like a hairpin roll-back (making it much harder to turn cleanly and smoothly), it sounds like this may be a bit of what she's doing. So my trainer will sometimes show me how BIG a turn can be and still get me to the jump.
              If I think about turning my shoulders to a fence, our turns are much better than when I think about looking at a fence, because I sometimes am only turning my neck, thinking about turning my upper body to the fence makes it easier for my horse to anticipate where we're going next!
              It also is really important that I am turning off my outside rein. If I am doing a nice turn and using the outside rein, we very rarely end up having to jump at a weird angle because I've totally missed getting straight to the jump, but if I'm focused on the inside rein our turns are awkward at best.

              One other thing that's helped me is having to plan my own courses. At first my trainer would say jump x and then turn right or left, but know before you are going over the jump which way it will be. I often jumped and then turned in a direction my horse found surprising (like, going across the diagonal, and turning back to the direction we'd been going before crossing the diagonal). So my trainer would talk about how courses are typically designed. Now she will sometimes say "start with this jump, then jump x and y in whatever order you want." I will usually talk through what I'm going to do/what makes sense. This has really improved my understanding of where the next jump might be during a course, and what makes a course "flowing" and easy to execute. A part of that has been that I usually need to point my horse at a jump during the "planning phase" because I'm very bad at estimating where I am going to be coming from/going to if I'm looking at the jump from an angle.

              And it sounds like she might be feeling a little overwhelmed about cantering in a group/jumping etc.
              Make sure you have very clear instructions/rules about group riding, and that everyone follows them! for example, passing left to left, the person who is overtaking should do a circle, or whatever.

              This also might be a great excuse to teach your riders to clearly let others know where they are going! When I was struggling to predict where other riders would end up, it was really helpful that everyone else in my group lesson would talk to me "I'll take the outside" or just "You're good there" so I knew we were all trying to avoid collisions, and I knew what people were doing around me as well!
              Also if you don't already do this, maybe tell her where to put her horse (or tell everyone) when one person is jumping. Especially if she's struggling to remember courses, she might be spending a surprising amount of energy worrying if she's about to be in someone's way when she's not jumping!

              You sound like a great teacher for this student, I just wanted to add that I think you are right to not read much into her expression when riding. My face can get quite "shut down" when I am concentrating hard on myself, but it doesn't mean I'm not paying attention and trying hard.
              So much great help in here. Thank you for that.

              I love the "make your own course" and "choose your path" ideas. These guys are at a great level to start thinking about that stuff.

              I'm also thinking about doing more "controlled traffic" exercises where not everyone is doing the same thing on the flat. I'll be sure to emphasise clearly communicating with fellow riders while they are at it. After all it's such an important thing if they ever want to show or even just ride out of lessons. I remember the first time an instructor asked us to canter opposite directions passing left to left, I nearly peed. But it was good for me!

              Comment


              • #27
                First, good for you to not blame the student or assume that the problem is "attitude", but to give her the benefit of the doubt and look for real solutions.

                So many good suggestions about what may be giving this student special challenges. Since she is having more trouble than the other students, I would say it isn't only a lack of prior experience in judging distance and space. I agree with those who feel that there is likely something more going on with her mental-physical processes that isn't usual for more people.

                Like another poster, I also have amblyopia and am a terrible judge of distance. All my riding life I have secretly left stride-counting strictly up to the horse, as I have no clue! I just pretend to do the exercise because I learned from the beginning that the horses don't need me to know how many strides fit in here (just to compress a bit, please, or open up a bit, please). As a teen, at a time when I had the least in the way of corrective lenses to help, it didn't slow me down at all from winning many 3'6" jumper championships. And jumping courses that most of my riding friends never attempted. Because I was (am) able to compensate effectively.

                When I walk a course, or look at it from horseback (even in motion), I not only have the jump order and pattern memorized, but also a basket-load of specific landmarks and instructions. But absolutely I have to be able to remember "after landing ride almost to the second fence-post from the corner before turning, and make sure the loop is almost as far out as the orange-pole jump while making a rounded turn to the next oxer". At shows I write a million tiny notes on my course map! If I try to ride the course without those specifics it will be a mess, because sometimes I can't pick out good turns on the fly (because I depend on the background to judge distance, and there isn't always a good background). But of course one has to be able to remember all of that, in order, and immediately focus on the next thing. If your girl has challenges in the areas of immediate memory and focus, then this will be hard to do.

                Sometimes when youngsters have visual problems, or other problems that no one else seems to be having, they don't speak up about them. Especially with visual problems, they don't know that what they see is different, and they think they are the only ones not coping with the confusing images. And if they know they have some other problem that others probably don't have, they may be worried that others will think poorly of them if they say anything.

                I know of one rider who sits on her horse in the middle of the ring and watches several other riders go before she is able to jump a course. When she's ready, she needs to go right then, because it fades quickly for her.

                I like the idea suggested above of breaking it down to one thing at a time. You may need to work with her privately and take all the time you need to do one cone, then two cones, etc. You may be in exploring mode if your student hasn't done anything else in her life that has revealed these issues and given some answers.

                Keep internet searching what is going on mentally/physically for some more specific answers. Sometimes some very useful information will surface on the internet.

                I will guess that you and she are going to learn many things that will help her later in life. That's what horses and instructors do for all of us!
                Last edited by OverandOnward; May. 8, 2019, 06:42 PM.

                Comment


                • #28
                  One other thought - are you sure it is the student who is cutting off the cones and the corners, or is it the horse? An unassertive rider may see and intend to go around the cone, but not assert herself when the horse says "pooh on that".

                  And there are some novice riders who have absorbed too much in the way of television, books and movies, and think that of course a horse will do whatever a rider asks them to do (or thinks about asking them to do), because they are such great friends, and that's how the story is supposed to happen.

                  Sometimes a rider has decent balance and a seemingly secure seat and it isn't obvious that that there is a lack of sufficient vigor and commitment in the application of the aids. Or in other words, the wrong partner is driving.
                  Last edited by OverandOnward; May. 8, 2019, 06:43 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post
                    One other thought - are you sure it is the student who is cutting off the cones and the corners, or is it the horse? An unassertive rider may see and intend to go around the cone, but not assert herself when the horse says "pooh on that"
                    This is what I was thinking too. If you tell her to ride around a cone and she can't accomplish it - this should be on the list of possibilities.

                    I'd start at the very beginning of the lesson and take it back to the walk. Then you can truly see where you lose her - jumps, speed, turns, etc. Set up a 'course' of three jumps, but only put out the standards - no poles at all. Then set up cones to guide her through the turns. Then you can start adding and taking away - remove some cones, or ask her to trot it. Then ask her to canter it. Or put a single ground pole in each spot. Or a cross-rail. Or take away some cones so there is only one to go around. Or take away the cones entirely. Or have her trot/canter through the standards then walk the corners.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #30
                      Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post
                      One other thought - are you sure it is the student who is cutting off the cones and the corners, or is it the horse? An unassertive rider may see and intend to go around the cone, but not assert herself when the horse says "pooh on that".

                      And there are some novice riders who have absorbed too much in the way of television, books and movies, and think that of course a horse will do whatever a rider asks them to do (or thinks about asking them to do), because they are such great friends, and that's how the story is supposed to happen.

                      Sometimes a rider has decent balance and a seemingly secure seat and it isn't obvious that that there is a lack of sufficient vigor and commitment in the application of the aids. Or in other words, the wrong partner is driving.
                      There is certainly a little of this going on. We have a string of your standard schoolies to choose from, who typically take the path of least resistance and have varying levels of opinions on how important this is to them.

                      In saying this, I don't think it's the bigger part of this. For one, when she's had to deal with getting a more stubborn sort to go or point the right direction, she typically struggles a bit but overcomes by the end of the lesson. This is a case where me being a little firmer with her gets her a little firmer with the horse, and the results come. But me taking the same approach on the steering hasn't worked.

                      Also, it's not just on the horses known for leaning in or taking advantage (trust there are lots of timid riders to showcase this). In fact, I think her mount's "I have no idea what is happening" expression the other night is what finally prompted me to make this thread.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        I'm just an armchair psychologist here, but speaking as someone who has dealt with similar issues herself, I'd be willing to bet she likely has problems with spatial awareness and physical awareness in general, it's just that the risk factor is much higher in a riding context than it is, say, walking around school or in gym class, and anxiety exacerbates the issue.

                        Stuff like putting cones in the arena are good solutions for kids who are just speeding to jumps or aren't getting after their horse properly. But speaking personally, if someone has an issue with spatial awareness (coupled with anxiety) the cone just becomes another spatial obstacle to navigate and worry about along with everything else. I didn't find unmounted work that helpful either, because navigating a horse in space with riding muscles is different than motorcycling your body around as a human.

                        What helped me was yoga, which gave me a much better sense of awareness of my body. But there really isn't a cure, I don't think. In a riding context, I'd suggest a private lesson really breaking down the concept of course navigating in a very nonthreatening way (like, literally starting with one jump, then adding one jump, and focusing on getting the best approach and distance to tiny poles and crossrails).

                        I think better spatial awareness is possible to hone, even though it's not always easy, and it's necessary to riding, especially in a group, but one-on-one instruction is needed because it is a learning difference.

                        Echo all the praise of other posters to you, OP, for realizing that this is a learning issue, not defiance. You sound like a great teacher. So many instructors just get angry at this type of thing, or shout to add leg.
                        Check out my latest novel, Pride, Prejudice, and Personal Statements!

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          My trainer would sometimes stand in position and say go around me. If that is too dangerous what about ground poles placed so she literally could not turn without riding over them. Also what about halting straight after a line or jump?
                          The Love for a Horse is just as Complicated as the Love for another Human being, If you have never Loved a Horse you will Never Understand!!!

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                          • #33
                            So many posts I may have missed if others have suggested this as well but maybe use yourself as "the cone"...she must go around your outside you can talk as she approaches point your arm out mmmmaaayyyybeee it will help. Ohhhh maybe teach her to sing "round the out side, round the outside" like the real slim shady, seriously maybe she is just to tense, hyper focused on her position...do whatever to try and get her to relax. Sounds like you have tried all the right things, have you asked her nicely, but point blank "what else can I do to help you use the space properly you must learn to do that for the pony's well being...tight turns are more wear on pony's body so for the love of pony please help me help you"

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              Lots of great ideas in this thread!!! My suggestions have already been mentioned, but yes, I would say walk, halt here, trot there, halt, etc For my greenie a couple of strides out, we'll make a mark across the dirt, so you trot to line, walk over obstacle, then trot at line after obstacle at other line, or canter, trot, etc

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Throwing one more idea out - has she seen herself on video? It might help film her and then go over it afterwards. If this is a group lesson environment, then I would film and review each rider separately so that she doesn't feel singled out.

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  It sounds like anxiety issues to me too. When a person is dealing with anxiety it can be extremely difficult to process other information.

                                  How well is she matched in this group? Perhaps she would be more comfortable in another group. She may feel intimidated by her fellow riders.

                                  Another option, meanwhile, is to do a "chunk and control" course. So, "go to rail and turn around the cone to green fence then halt." When she has done that, "trot and turn right around yellow cone and jump blue fence and halt at next cone." Etc. Then do it a second time and make your prompts briefer. Third time you only help if she gets the deer in headlights look.

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    You mentioned trying her on a pony - I would do that. It can feel like the difference between zipping around on a motorcycle versus maneuvering an extended cab truck.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #38
                                      Thanks for all the additional suggestions.

                                      The lesson plan for this week is to "chunk down" a pattern -- so good for all the kids anyway. And have her on something small. I will report back how it goes (so you can all help me brainstorm and fine tune based on the results of that experiment).

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        My 1st suggestion would be to have the course set ahead and a small white board.
                                        Have the kids trace the course with you. Draw deep into the corners and mention it specifially.
                                        Then take the white board out with you and have them retrace the course before they start. Or have them draw it forwards and then draw it backwards.

                                        I rode with Luciana Diniz (who does these butterfly exercises) in Germany last year and she even made our group, including 3 & 4* riders, trace some of our course to make sure we didn't screw up. (Aaaand because everyone had to make a different course using every jump and not jumping anything twice...but that's a different problem).

                                        The best spacing advice I ever got is one that no one in a hack class seems to know. Track is always your friend, even on the flat and ESPECIALLY in crowds. You can adjust the distance between your horse and others without giving up your spot by using your track. Too close to the horse in front of you? Stay out in your corner deeper. Need to close the gap so there's not enough room for someone slow or rude to cross into the sweet spot in front of you...or just catch up in a group lesson? Shave a little off your corners.

                                        Good luck and happy teaching!

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